Summer may be unofficially over but the retrans blackout season is beginning to heat up, with about 43 stations owned by Montgomery, Ala. -based broadcaster Raycom Media going dark to DirecTV customers on Sept. 1. (UPDATE: The Raycom dispute was settled on Sept. 7 and also involved 10 secondary streaming services; this article originally said the dispute affected 53 TV stations.)
As is typical in these types of negotiations, the rift appears to be over price.
“Raycom Media is denying DirecTV customers and some of its own most loyal viewers access to its local broadcast stations unless they pay more than double just to receive the same broadcast shows that remain available over the air for free.,” DirecTV said in a statement. “We will always work to protect our customers and prevent them from enduring any unnecessary interruptions, no matter how brief. We appreciate their patience since it has a direct impact on their bill.”
Raycom, which has a history of sometimes contentious negotiations with satellite TV and cable operators – most recently it blacked out Dish subscribers in 36 markets in August 2013 for about eight days and went dark to Cox Communications customers in six markets in January 2013 for four days – said in a statement that it has been negotiating with DirecTV for the past three months to work out an agreement to no avail.
“This is frustrating for DirecTV customers who rely on Raycom stations for information and entertainment,” Raycom CEO Paul McTear s aid in a statement. “We share their frustration and are committed to doing everything we can to resolve this issue and have been for the last 12 weeks of discussions.”
Raycom owns or provides services to stations in 37 markets in 18 states, including WOIO (CBS) in Cleveland; WAVE (NBC) in Louisville, Ky.; WXIX (Fox) in Cincinnati; WAFB (CBS) in Baton Rouge, La.; KGMB (CBS) in Honolulu, Hawaii; and WWBT (NBC) in Richmond, Va.